Our experiences differ. Our condition means something different to each of us. I figured one of my first posts should be to share mine. All experiences and opinions below are mine, and mine alone.
I first began to notice my symptoms around the age of 13. I experienced fatigue, headaches, digestion issues, light-sensitivity and temperature control issues. I’d stay in bed for a week at the time and barely have the energy to move, or wash. I felt different, out of place. At first, I had no idea what was wrong with me. I thought I was developing a chronic illness. As do a lot of people, I began to google my symptoms and came across the ‘Vampire Community’ – and I noticed my symptoms mirrored that of those who called themselves ‘sanguinarians’. Now, this was a very confusing time for me. I was a young teenager and in addition to identity issues with my sexuality, I was now finding information talking about ‘vampirism’ and blood drinking, with a lot of anecdotal evidence claiming that blood alleviated the very same symptoms I was experiencing. So I took to eating steak -it helped. I debated trying to tell my parents, whether to ‘come out’, but I never did. It can be exceptionally hard for a young person, or anyone as a matter of fact, to ‘come out’ about having this condition and be taken seriously. Now I have had extensive medical tests – blood, urine, full medical work ups, psychiatric. Never found anything except a sleeping issue.
I got my first taste of blood aged 15. I was at school, and a girl in one of my classes had an interest in the vampire myth. I was still very much trying to come to terms with my condition then, and having an illness that I felt I had to keep to myself and asking myself “could I be a vampire? Am I crazy?”, it led me into depression. She approached me asking about vampires, if I am one, and offered to let me drink her blood. Blood consistently relieves my symptoms. Nothing else has ever worked for me – medicine was symptom management at best. Like taking DayQuil when you have the flu. Prana never worked. Only blood relieved my symptoms. I have no interest in being this way. It’s not an easy way to live, debilitating health problems or consuming blood, especially with the taboos surrounding it. At some point though, you have to accept it and force yourself to be comfortable and at one with it, like any minority. One can’t spend their life apologizing for the way they were born. It’s no way to live. I’m comfortable with myself and all aspects of myself now, but it’s been a long, rocky road and taken 12 years.
My current donor is my partner. We were friends for many years, and he sees the physical effects of me not drinking blood. Currently, the blood is collected via. a lancet and pricks to the finger (though this is done every few days as it isn’t a substantial amount), or by IV. With drawing by IV, we fill several 4ml vials every 2 weeks, some of which is consumed then, some is stored. Before even attempting the IV, we have done an incredible amount of research and undergone a phlebotomy training course to ensure it is completely safe. Any wound is cleaned and dressed, and we are sure to never take too much per Red Cross guidelines (no more than a pint roughly every 56 days. A pint is 477ml). The sang community as a whole is very careful and conscientious about health and safety. Blood tests before donating/drinking blood is of utmost importance to eliminate the risk of blood-borne pathogens. Some donors want to give blood because of a sexual element on their part; the ‘vampire’ myth is very strong to some, and our condition can be fetishized fairly often. Others are just selfless, genuine people who want to help us feel better; these are referred to as ‘Swans’ in the community.
As I’ve gotten older, my digestion issues seem to have gotten worse and my need for blood has increased. Recently, I was not able to hold food in for a week (other than a rare steak on one night) because I had gone without my scheduled ‘drinking’. If given long enough, it can also start to affect mood, mental health, in addition to the fatigue. I very much consider myself an atheist, and have at times performed ‘experiments’ on myself by trying not to drink and noting, studying what the side effects are. My health has gotten so bad before that I’ve had my spouse and other loved ones perform an ‘intervention’ of sorts to make me drink, because I was getting an illness almost every week, most food wouldn’t sit well in my stomach, my emotions were all over the place and I was generally run down, as if I hadn’t slept in a week. I’ve heard many theories over the years as to why we need the blood. One theory is it’s an adrenaline rush. I strongly disagree. It is very rare that I get an adrenaline rush while drinking blood. Most of the time it is very impersonal, much like taking a pill. Another is the belief that it’s a fetish. Blood fetishists do exist – that certainly is not us. I drink because without it, I experience very real health degradation and it has no arousing properties for me whatsoever. If the cause could be identified, I would most certainly take a pharmaceutical pill to abate the health issues, provided there were no bad side-effects. Would I still feed? Maybe.
There is a large fear of stigma and our livelihoods being at risk if we were to be outed. On a personal level, I’ve spent most of the last 10 years outside of the online ‘Vampire Community’ and tried to spread awareness via. my friends and loved ones about sanguinarianism. I have no attachment to the term ‘vampire’ and believe it is a loaded term with many misconceptions. The majority of those I consider my close friends know about my condition. Some don’t understand it, but they respect it nonetheless. I have experienced stigma before – I’ve been called insane, a fetishist, deluded by friends I’ve told. Another concern is that there is a distinct lack of information available about medical sanguinarianism. It is difficult having to hide a fundamental part of yourself and something that at times can be a truly debilitating illness to those close to you, especially something that is so misunderstood and taboo. It is not uncommon for sangs to feel a strong sense of confusion, guilt and shame – especially in our early years. Many of us have ‘tried to stop being a sanguinarian’, often with dire consequences or landing ourselves in hospital. I’ll tell you this now. You’re not alone, and it does get easier. I promise.
As things stand, most of us have to hide part of our lives away from the world and have to learn to cope with sickness, bullying, stigma and isolation. That is one reason why medical research, public awareness and safety are such important goals to me. I maintain a fairly active presence in the online Vampire Community to find those experiencing the same symptoms I do, letting them know they aren’t alone, provide support and information, and to promote medical research. I operate several groups and networks with this goal in mind. I feel this is an important step to our condition being recognized as a legitimate one, to cast away misconceptions, and provide more options for the generations to come after us.
It’s my earnest hope that the medical community, and the outside world at large, can begin to accept our condition as a genuine one and take an interest in helping us to identify the cause for our condition.